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Stonewall CEO: creating a safe space for ideas key to trans inclusion

Senior leadership involvement is vital to ensure trans inclusivity at work, and HR can help, says LGBT+ charity Stonewall.

Speaking at its 2022 Workplace Conference, CEO Nancy Kelley advised on the supporting role HR can play in shifting mindsets of senior leadership.

She said the most important thing was for organisations to make safety for trans employees a priority.

In workplaces where leaders have become accustomed to working in less inclusive environments, she said HR can help give them the time they need to unlearn out-of-date views.

"What’s really important for a good trans inclusive workplace is that work is [made] one of the safest and best places for trans people to be," she said.

"It means being visible trans allies and celebrating trans pride in the same way you would celebrate other pride days and events."

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She added: “When you think about people with more traditional views or slightly homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic views in senior leadership positions, most of those people won’t come with bad intentions.

“They come from a world where this is alien and they’ve been brought up with a certain way of seeing the world. Give those leaders a chance to unpack what they think they know and come to a more inclusive frame of mind."

She told HR magazine: "One important thing is creating safe spaces for people to learn."

Senior leaders' involvement is especially vital when engaging with an organisation’s LGBT+ networks, Kelley added.

"The real magic is where you have these self-organised spaces which help LGBT+ people feel safe at work," she said.

"They’re getting that support from senior leadership, or seed funding for projects they want to lead, and that kind of collaboration between colleagues at all levels and visible championing at the top we see making all the difference.

"For HR and D&I professionals, the role is about enabling that collaboration."

Kelley said she has been encouraged by the number of big corporations demonstrating good practice in LGBT+ inclusion, and she wants to see the trend continue.

"We had big supermarkets like Tesco winning awards; construction companies, public sector employers, even big global businesses in finance – I would love for that to keep growing, to see more businesses that come from a wider range of sectors being really confident about the great work they do around LGBT+ inclusion.

"That’s what encourages more organisations to say this is an agenda that’s relevant to us and we can be confident engaging with it."

Inclusive policy should be standard she said, and many bigger organisation have begun to offer benefits tailored to specific groups, such as health insurance that gives trans colleagues access to gender affirming healthcare.